Closing the broadband gap in the Las Vegas Valley

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 7:03 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Not everyone in the Las Vegas Valley has affordable internet. In fact, thousands are not connected at all.

For example, in Ward 3 of Las Vegas, which includes parts of downtown and East Las Vegas, 32% of households don’t have broadband internet. In many parts of Ward 3, monthly internet plans run into triple digits.

Special education teacher Lisa Smith is among the people paying a high price for connectivity. She commutes from the north end of the valley to teach at Abston Elementary School, south of Summerlin, and says her internet is spotty both at home and at work.

“The provider that I have is not the best provider,” Smith told FOX5. “But it’s the provider I could afford.”

Smith says it’s tough to do her job when so much of it relies on her and her students being online.

“I feel like it’s gotten worse,” she said. “I constantly have to have plan B ready.”

People across the valley face similar difficulties getting online. Las Vegas Councilwoman Olivia Diaz has heard stories like Smith’s often.

“For my families, it’s difficult making decisions of whether I need to complete the rent payment or my cell phone payment or buy my kid new shoes,” Diaz said.

Diaz, who represents Ward 3, recently cleared the way for a new fiber internet provider called Gigapower, LLC.

“I am a supporter of more diversity in the space and having more options. I myself don’t have very many options on the east side of Las Vegas.”

Dr. Kendall Hartley, who specializes in educational technology at UNLV, says all the ingredients for better connectivity in the Valley are here.

“It’s not that we don’t necessarily have the initial infrastructure,” Hartley says. “What we don’t have necessarily is consistent infrastructure that goes to all houses and all the places where they can actually take advantage of high-speed access.”

Hartley’s students, like Smith’s, need to get online for a full educational experience.

“Students getting online is absolutely critical these days,” he said.

For college kids just trying to make ends meet, spending $100 a month on the internet might not be feasible. It’s not just students, of course -- just about everyone needs to be online in some capacity in order to fully participate in society.

“We’re living in a digital world where everything applies for a new job online, go get your bank statements online, go see how much you’re making and where your money is going online,” Diaz said.

Much of the Las Vegas Valley has fewer than three internet provider options. You can check out an interactive map that shows the pricing and availability of broadband here.